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James McGregor Stewart Society


Speaking of human rights, there’s a relatively new (started in August) local group called the James McGregor Stewart Society, advocating for accessibility throughout the region. 

Stewart was a Pictou boy whose stellar academic record brought him to Dalhousie University, where he was a potential candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship reserved for a Dal student. But, notes the society, “the faculty senate at Dalhousie voted in 1910 not to appoint Stewart because he’d had polio as a boy and walked with crutches. The motion proposed by Dean Weldon himself read, ‘Serious physical defects should be considered as rendering a candidate ineligible for the Rhodes Scholarship.’” Stewart went on to found the Stewart McKelvey law firm and became president of the Canadian Bar. He died in 1955.

The society’s website pulls no punches. A slide show labelled “Inaccessible Halifax” shows some of the worst local offenders when it comes to accessibility, including City Centre Atlantic, the Halifax Professional Centre, Park Lane, the Chronicle-Herald building and about a dozen restaurants, each with the tag line “Where not to eat in Halifax.”

Theoretically, Canadian laws mandate accessibility, but theory and practice are worlds apart. The website also hosts a discussion about the absurdities faced by the disabled---the liquor commission, for example, circularly argued in court that it didn’t need to build its new management offices to accessible standards because no one with a disability had ever applied for a management job.

Join that discussion at

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